New to the UK Chain cycling shoes are made in Italy by a company that have over the last 20 years been creating shoes for the likes of Sidi, Gaerne and Fizik. The Nova 2 is part of a range of five road specific models, well we say five but it could be counted as ten due to every shoe coming with a choice of either a carbon reinforced nylon or a carbon sole.
The man made uppers are well ventilated with mesh sections behind the reinforced toe box and along the sides while more can be found at the heel cup. The sole also has a vent channel running from the ball of the foot to underneath the bridge in a bid to keep cool air flowing across the insole. A toe cover or overshoe is going need to be worn if you wear them outside of spring or summer as things can get a bit chilly especially at speed.
A molded reinforced heel support is added to the outer keeping things from twisting under load. Coupled with two Velcro straps and a ratchet system this heel cup creates a very secure yet comfortable fit. The ratchet provides plenty of adjustment to get the fit right for the type of riding you happen to be doing.
Your feet are kept in place with a padded heel section while underfoot is a foam insole providing enough cushion to keep things comfortable without damping out the sensation of immediacy from the power you're trying to lay down.
All the 2011 'in' sheo colours are catered for, as well as the silver tested there is a white and a shiny black version. The sole is drilled with the three hole configuration used by Shimano, Speedplay, Look etc. A stack height of around 9mm, while not as low as some, keeps your foot pretty close to the pedal face, but while the carbon reinforced nylon sole is reasonably stiff you can notice a bit of flex when under hard acceleration or climbing compared to a carbon sole, this can produce a few hotspots as well.
The price is at the top end for a shoe with this level of features and a nylon sole. The Nova 2 looks good as well keeping up with the bling levels of most shoes today and along with the fit should provide many miles of trouble free riding. The ratchet system does feel a touch fragile but no matter how hard I cranked up the tension nothing broke, spares are availiable on Chain's website at least. Comfort is good with the sole producing just enough flex to stay on the good side of harsh, if you are going to be doing a lot of sprinting though go for the carbon model. All in all a good quality, well designed shoe but just lacking that little bit of something to match performance with the looks.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Chain Nova 2 Nylon shoe
Size tested: 44
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
A fast roadie shoe which will be ideal for fast club runs, sportives and training.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
There is nothing new or groundbreaking about this shoe but it draws on the companies expertise of making shoes for the other big brands.
The construction looks very good with the sole/upper interface tidy plus the stiching is first rate. All round build quality looks neat and solid
Not the lightest or stiffest in the world but able to put down a good pace
Seem to be resistant to scuffs and marks. there are toe and heel pads for walking which should keep the sole scratch free
You don't really notice you are wearing them in a way that they're not uncomfortable but you don't notice anything special either. I could easily put in many hours without paying any attention to my feet at all.
The Nova 2 are at the top end for a nylon sole but are compare to Northwave's, Spuik and Shimano's offerings at the same price level.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
A solid pair of shoes that just get on with the job of attaching your feet to your pedals
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The looks and colour options. A good supportive heel cup provides a solid fit.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The ratchet system does feel a bit flimsy but we'll wait and see.
Did you enjoy using the product? yes they're a good pair of shoes
Would you consider buying the product? Probably not
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes but along with other suggestions
Anything further to say about the product in conclusion?
Overall a good pair of shoes but as I've said above, nothing to really make them stand out, Specialized and Lake are using BOA systems at this price point which I find much more comfortable than the ratchet systems.
About the tester
Age: 32 Height: 180cm Weight: 78kg
I usually ride: Genesis Flyer My best bike is: Ribble Gran Fondo
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
Stu knocked out his first road.cc review back in 2009 and since then he's chucked the best part of seventy test bikes around the West Country, a couple of them quite literally! With three alloy and two steel bikes in his fleet he's definitely a metal man (that'll be the engineering background) but is slowly warming to that modern carbon fibre stuff along with fat tyres & disc brakes.
It's not all nostalgia though, after spending the last few years in product design Stu keeps banging on about how 3D printing is going to be the next big thing and he's a sucker for a beautiful paint job too.